Cristian Guzman and Willie Harris are set to come back this week. Willie Harris should provide some much needed bench help, and the occasional fill-in as a starter. Unfortunately, the Nats seem to be convinced that he is only going to be their 5th OFer, not a 2B at all. While he has some value as a #5 OFer, if he takes ABs away from Willingham (who has shown he can hit every year if given the opportunity) he probably takes runs away from the team. Meanwhile, if he plays some 2B in place of Anderson Hernandez, even once a week, his bat compares favorably.
Thankfully, Anderson probably will no longer be unwisely shoved into the leadoff role simply because he’s fast. Instead, Guzman will be there. Guzman, despite being a light-hitting shortstop, is not fast. Keeping in mind his limited playing time, since he came to DC in 2005, he has stolen 16 bases and been caught 9 times. Not very fast. But what he has been able to do, despite a complete and utter lack of any ability to take walks, is get on base. Since his lasik eye surgery, now the stuff of legends, Guzman has an OBP of .360. His splits are .327/.360/.452, not at all bad for a leadoff hitter. He does need the high batting average, but it appears that he can do that. So now, whenever the leadoff hitter gets up, it’s not necessarily an automatic out.
As for the leadoff spot for the Nats, as a lineup spot, they are batting .228/.315/.253. Pretty much guaranteed improvement with Guzman. Much of this has to do with Hernandez, but he HAS picked it up a bit lately. While his season numbers are a paltry .262/.367/.310, he is at least reaching base now. And over the last few games, he has hit much better. He’s certainly not ready for the leadoff spot, but burying him down at #8 and giving him a chance to hit isn’t a bad thing. Maybe leadoff is in his future, as he has shown some patience. But not yet.
Finally, just for the people who wrote in and told me that Bonifacio should have been the answer – he’s now hitting .266/.301/.342. And if you take out those first three games against the Nats – you know, the ones where he got a HR and a triple that should have both been outs – he’s hitting .200/.235/.215. The season totals should continue to go down, the OBP will dip below .300 and the power numbers will get worse and worse. Nothing against the guy, I’m just saying – he wasn’t the answer.